5 Bad Credit Card Habits to Break Now

8044873-largeWe’ve all heard the advice: Use credit cards wisely. Still, knowing what’s smart and doing what’s smart can be two different things. And with an increasing number of U.S. young adults putting purchases on plastic – 57 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds say they use credit cards today, versus 48 percent in 2013, according to Mercator Advisory Group’s recent Customer Monitor Survey – that advice is worth repeating.

Are you guilty of any of the following five bad credit card habits? If you’re guilty of having any of these habits, it’s time to change your ways. Otherwise, stay far, far away from these behaviors:

1. Mindless charging. Some people use credit cards with the mindset that “it doesn’t count” if it’s paid for with plastic instead of cash. You need to think before you spend. You don’t want to have more than $100,000 in credit card debt and not qualify for a mortgage for your new home. Even if you’re able to clean up your credit enough to close on a home, you could face the possibility of foreclosure when trying to balance your credit card debt and your living expenses.

2. Paying only the minimum amount due. It’s understandable that if money’s tight, you may not feel like parting with hard-earned cents to pay down your credit card debt.

But you’re just hurting yourself in the long run. If you pay the minimum on credit cards, you’re extending the time period on everything that you buy. This is the main reason that people can build extraordinarily large credit card balances that they can’t hope to pay off. If you’re going to use your cards and carry revolving debt, you at least need to know that it’s going to be paid off within a time frame that works for you.

3. Adding to your revolving debt by making nonessential purchases. All revolving credit card debt should be avoided, of course. But if you’re carrying revolving debt on a credit card, and then your car breaks down, and you don’t have the money to pay a mechanic, you can make a good argument for whipping out your credit card.

You need that car to get to work, or to shuttle your kids around, and if you live in the suburbs or countryside, you probably don’t have a bus service to utilize. So, yes, getting the car fixed is essential. But buying a pair of shoes when you already have a closet full of them or going out to eat with a credit card that has revolving debt is a) problematic and b) not essential, says Albert Williams, a personal finance professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“This pay-later [plan] is really creating a loan that is interest-bearing,” Williams says. “This is a bad practice but people do it often.”

In other words, if you’re still paying off that mechanic six months from now, you probably won’t hate yourself. You needed that car fixed. If six months later, you’re still carrying debt on cheeseburgers, fries and shakes, every time you look at your credit card statement, you probably are going to experience indigestion.

4. Using your credit card for a cash advance. If you’re short on cash and you really want some actual bills in your wallet, it may be tempting to take out a little cash. But you might as well just rip it up. In fact, if you take out a cash advance from a credit card, not only will you pay interest, you may get a transaction fee, which could be as much as 5 percent of the cash advance.

You can pay back your credit card immediately, of course, if you get a cash advance that you immediately come to regret. But no matter what, you’ll end up paying the interest accrued on that cash – as well as the transaction fee.

5. Having too many credit cards. There are good reasons to have some credit cards, but it’s difficult to justify having lots of them.

Researchers say that the average number for most people with credit cards is four. However, once you get a credit card, you really have to live with it, since canceling the card can hurt your FICO score. That’s because a great deal of it is based on the equation of credit used over credit available. Try to have cards that equal the amount of credit that you can use and more importantly, can manage.

Leslie Tayne, a New York City-based attorney, debt specialist and author of the new book, “Life & Debt: A fresh approach to achieving financial wellness,” agrees that having too many credit cards is a bad habit consumers develop, thanks to all the store cards out there.

“I often see people with over 20 credit cards, all of which have balances,” she says. “This makes it hard to keep track of that many cards, for issuing payments on time.”

And balances, she adds, can quickly add up. That’s not to say that if you can replace your bad habits with good habits, you can’t benefit from these cards. “Store card discount incentives can be great if someone has a plan to pay off the balance,” Tayne says. And having a plan to pay off the plastic is generally the key to creating and maintaining good habits with credit cards. If all else fails, remember the universal rule of credit card usage: If you don’t pay it now, you’ll really pay for it later.

Don’t forget about our free, online debt management tool, Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live!

Article source written by Geoff Williams of US News.

Credit Cards Can Be Stolen Right Under Your Nose

635576298599917158-468266197-4-There are several things people freak out about when their wallets or purses have been stolen: knowing a thief has your ID (and your home address), losing irreplaceable gift cards or cash, and having to cancel your credit cards. That’s usually the first thing people do — call their banks — but it’s easy to act quickly when you realize you’ve been robbed. Sometimes, it’s not that simple.

Thieves steal credit and debit cards all the time without taking the physical card. The most common kind of card theft results from data breaches. Last year, millions of U.S. consumers had their cards replaced after their information was compromised in one of the massive cyberattacks on retailers, even if their cards didn’t show unauthorized activity. People have gotten used to the idea that data breaches are inevitable, but there are lots of daily activities that put your cards at risk for theft, without you noticing.

1. Drive-thrus

A Pennsylvania woman was recently arrested for allegedly swiping customer cards on a personal card reader while she worked the drive-thru at a Dunkin’ Donuts, WFMZ reports, reportedly using the information to create duplicate cards and charge more than $800 to the accounts.

That’s not the first time a story like this has popped up, and it’s likely to happen again, because the situation presents an easy theft opportunity to drive-thru workers: Customers hand over their cards and usually can’t see what the cashier is doing with it on the other side of the window. It’s not like you should avoid the drive-thru for fear of card theft, but it’s one of many reasons to regularly check your card activity for signs of unauthorized use.

2. Restaurants

How often do you see your server process your dinner payment? Usually, he or she takes your card away from your table and completes the transaction out of your sight. Many restaurant workers have taken advantage of this situation to copy customers’ cards and fraudulently use the information. Once again, regularly check your card activity for signs of unauthorized use.

3. On the Phone

People are pretty trusting when making orders over the phone, assuming that whoever takes the order is entering the credit or debit card number, expiration date and security code into a payment system, not just copying it down for their own use. On the flip side, it might not be the person on the other end of the call you should worry about — plenty of people read their card information aloud within earshot of strangers, making it easy for someone nearby to write down the numbers.

4. RFID Scanners

Most radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled credit and debit cards have a symbol (four curved lines representing a signal emission) indicating the card has the technology for contactless payment. If you have one of these cards, you have the ability to use tap-and-pay terminals found at some retailers, because your card sends payment information via radio frequencies, received by the terminal.

That same technology also allows thieves to use RFID scanners to copy your card data if they get close enough to it and your card isn’t protected. If you’re not sure your card has RFID technology, call your issuer, and if it does, use signal-blocking materials and products to protect it.

5. Card skimmers

Thieves have been installing copying devices at gas pumps and ATMs for years: They tamper with card readers to install skimmers that copy your card data when you swipe it, so a thief takes your credit or debit card information while you complete an otherwise routine transaction. Experts advise you look closely at card readers for signs of tampering, use ATMs serviced by your bank and check your card activity regularly for signs of fraud.

That’s really the best way to combat credit card theft: Watch closely for it. With online banking and mobile applications, it’s easy to check your accounts every day, making it more likely you’ll spot something out of the ordinary than if you only looked at card activity once a week or so. You can also check your credit score for sudden changes, which can be a sign of fraud or identity theft.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – with our Fully Managed Identity Recovery services, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored and you can try it FREE for 90 days!*

Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit. To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!**

*Available for new enrollments only. After the free trial of 90 days, the member must contact the Credit Union to opt-out of ID Theft Protection or the monthly fee of $4.95 will automatically be deducted out of the base savings account or $8.95 will be deducted out of the First Protection Checking account (depending upon the coverage option selected), on a monthly basis or until the member opts out of the program. **Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

Article source courtesy of Christine DiGangi, Credit.com.

Learn About “Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns for Business” at this Seminar in April 2015

socialmediaadsThere has been a dramatic decrease in organic reach for Facebook Business Pages with the introduction of some very powerful advertising tools on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The game of Social Media Marketing has changed and businesses are struggling to wrap their strategies and budgets around this relatively new form of paid advertising.  

Join Deborah Smith, where she will help unravel the mystery of successful social media ad campaigns and:

  • Learn the ins and outs of Facebook advertising, including the mysterious “Power Editor”
  • Secrets on how to uncover your target market and laser focus your ads
  • Minimize cost per click while maximizing click-through rates
  • Create custom audiences and retargeting campaigns 

Participants will have plenty of time to ask questions, share experiences, and network with peers. And they’ll leave with real-world insights and knowledge that they can put to work immediately, to help their business or organization succeed.

Join us on Thursday, April 23rd at 8:30am for networking and 9:00am for our Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns for Business Seminar presented by Deborah Smith, owner of Foxtrot Media, LLC. The seminar will be held at First Financial’s Corporate Office located at 1800, Rt. 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302, Wall NJ. Space is limited – Register today! *This seminar is $10 to attend.

Register Now!

Deborah Smith is the owner of Foxtrot Media, LLC a Social Media Consulting and Management company. Deborah got her start in social media over 12 years ago when she launched an E-Commerce business which operated a network of websites serving the Nanny Industry. She began employing email groups, chat rooms and online message boards as marketing and networking tools well before the term “Social Media” was ever conceived. When the new tools like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn emerged, Deborah was an early adopter and soon mastered these tools for her own business. In 2007, she launched her first blog, JerseyBites.com, a collaborative food blog with over 35 contributors throughout the state. JerseyBites now welcomes over 25,000 visitors per month and was recently named content partner to NJ.com for food news in New Jersey. Deborah was also recently named one of 100 Constant Contact local experts in the country. She is an experienced corporate trainer and social media consultant for businesses throughout the tri-state area.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this April 2015

family-picnic-springSpring is finally here! Time to enjoy the fresh flowers, warm weather, and great outdoor activities. Check out all of the fun events we have listed below – many of them are free or very inexpensive that you and your family and friends can enjoy this month. As always, we welcome you to post a comment with your feedback, we’d love to hear how you liked any of the events we posted!

Saturday, April 4: Visit Allaire Village (Farmingdale) for an Easter Egg Hunt in the Village from 12pm-4pm! The handmade Easter Bonnet Parade (with prizes) will be held at 3pm. There is a limited supply, please purchase tickets in advance – just $5 per person, children under 3 are FREE. All of the historic buildings are now open for the season! For more information, call 732-919-3500.

Sunday, April 5: Get dressed up in your Sunday best and stroll the boardwalk at our legendary celebration – the 2015 Asbury Park Easter Parade! This will be the parade’s 80th Anniversary and will be held from 1pm-3pm. The parade features men, women, boys and girls all competing to be judged the best dressed for trophies and prizes from local merchants and restaurants. For more information, call 732-502-5752.

Saturday, April 11 & Sunday, April 12: The Company of Dance Arts is pleased to present their original version of Cinderella, which was performed for the first time in the spring of 2012. Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s stirring score, this classic tale of rags to riches comes alive onstage. Audience members of all ages will enjoy this ballet and the beautiful choreography, costumes and staging. In addition to the classical touches, this ballet includes many comedic moments featuring the hilarious Step Mother and Step Sisters! The show will be held at Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank) and tickets start at just $20 a person. For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Thursday, April 16: Join Salt Creek Grille (Rumson) for their 12th Annual Wine & Martini Tasting to benefit the Kortney Rose Foundation. Enjoy an evening of wine vendors, hors d’oeuvres, pasta stations, live jazz music and so much more. The event starts at 7pm – a great date night or girls’ night out! For more information, call 732-933-9272.

Thursday, April 23: Are you a small business owner looking to get noticed on social media? Join First Financial along with Social Media Expert, Deborah Smith, for our “Paid Social Media Ad Campaigns for Business” Seminar. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 8:30am for networking and light breakfast followed by the seminar promptly at 9am. Space and time is limited, reserve your seat today! For more information, call us at 866.750.0100.

Saturday, April 25: It’s the Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap at Deep Cut Gardens (Middletown)! Bring plants in one-quart, one-gallon, or two-gallon containers to the park and take home the same size and number of plants. It is asked to please label all plants prior to the event. Herb and vegetable seedlings may also be exchanged, but invasive plants will not be accepted; a list of such plants and further information is available at http://www.njisst.org. Please Note: To allow for plant inspection as per N.J. Department of Agriculture regulations, plant intake will be from 8-10 a.m., with no plants accepted after 10 a.m. Plants may be selected and taken from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call 732-671-6050.

Bring your “furry” family members to the Monmouth County SPCA’s 21st Annual Dog Walk and Pet Fair! Join over 2,000 people and their pets and enjoy shopping vendors, live music, raffles, doggie costume contests and much more. The event will be held at Brookdale Community College (Lincroft) from 10am-3pm. For more information, call 732-440-1558.

Sunday, April 26 (Rain date May 3): You don’t want to miss Red Bank’s International Flavour Festival! From noon-7pm, enjoy 25 of Red Banks finest restaurants who will be cooking up international favorites including Korean, Thai, Italian, Chinese, American, Mexican, Irish and more. There will also be international beers and wines from various countries. Bring the entire family to this unbelievable fundraising event – proceeds will benefit the Red Bank River Center, Parker Family Health Center, and Monmouth Day Care. For more information, call 732-829-1104.

Happy Spring!

FREE “How to Buy & Sell Your Home” Seminar this April 2015

Hispanic family outside home with sold signThere are a lot of uncertainties that arise when it comes to buying or selling a home: if the market is right, how to choose a realtor, how much to budget for, are just a few of them. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to gain insight on the best way to move forward with your home buying/selling process.

At our upcoming consumer seminar, attendees will learn:

  • How to go about buying a new home.
  • The best way to sell your current home.
  • How to figure out how much house you can afford.

Join us on Thursday, April 16th at 6:00pm for our “How to Buy & Sell Your Home” Seminar, presented by the experts at First Financial as well as Tina Pilot, Realtor-Associate for Re/Max. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 1800 Route 34 North (Building 3, Suite 302), Wall. Space is limited, so make sure you sign up today!

Register Now!
Tina Pilot has worked in the insurance, mortgage, and title business since 1998 and has a very diverse background in the industry. She obtained her real estate license in 2007 and has served on the Realtor Community Service (RCS) Committee of the Ocean County Board of Realtors since 2011. Outstanding customer service is Tina’s top priority. In addition to serving clients in her market area Tina provides a referral service so whether you are moving from or to another state or county she is able to offer her expertise and utilize her network of real estate professionals to assist you. Tina is enthusiastic about continuing her real estate education so she can better serve her clients.